(This series of writings was prompted by listening to an excellent sermon from Dr. John MacArthur entitled “Thanks, No Matter What” on 1 Thessalonians 5:18. The sermon was from 1995, I believe.)
“in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
I have been prompted to pen a series of writings on the enemies of thankfulness. One of the ironic features of American Christianity is that despite living in the most affluent society in the history of the world, there is a general lack of thankfulness among believers in America. I find this glaring flaw present in my own life, as well, and am very convicted by it. Living in great abundance and with every need supplied, there is little evidence of thanks in the prayers and the conversations of even committed, genuine believers. Listen to the prayers of American Christians and you may hear some token thanks given for general things, but sincere and heart-felt thanks for the amazing spiritual and material blessings that the Lord has showered on them is usually absent. Again, I know that I am guilty of this and so I may be projecting this on others, but I don’t think so. I think it may be a trait of fallen humanity that the more that we have materially, the less thankful we are.
So I have made a commitment to be more thankful and to have vital, deep thanksgiving become a regular part of my prayers and my conversations. To help me in this endeavor, and hopefully to help you also, I wanted to discuss five enemies of thankfulness, which, if present and prominent in my life and in your life, will smother thankfulness. Again I am grateful to Dr. MacArthur for identifying these enemies. I am taking his ideas and developing them a little further.
The Enemies of Thankfulness – Worldliness:
The third enemy of thankfulness is “WORLDLINESS.” Like the other enemies, worldliness will rob you of the joy of thanking the Lord for His blessings, will remove the taste from the salt of your witness and will dull the brightness of your light for Christ. What is this worldliness? What does it look like? I tried to come up with a concise definition and did not succeed, but here are some ideas.
What is worldliness?
Worldliness is being enamored and obsessed by trivia and by the pretty trinkets of this world. It is wasting my life, which has great value, by chasing things that have little value. Worldliness is marked by striving to achieve things or obtain things which don’t matter to God. It is indulging myself on things that are temporary and that dull my spiritual hunger. It is becoming very entrenched in the possessions and the experiences of this life and forgetting that I have a heavenly home and a heavenly King. Worldliness is stimulating the senses and starving the spirit. It is spending extravagantly for things that will break and rust and burn. Worldliness manifests itself in my need to be entertained and amused rather than to be trained and disciplined. It is a growing attachment to this life and to this world and a lack of longing for the next.
Yes, there is certainly a balance in the stewardship of money and in the owning of nice things and there is nothing wrong with owning nice things and even expensive things. Nevertheless the believer must be very aware of the constant temptation to become overly fascinated with beautiful homes and fine automobiles and fancy gadgets and to lose sight of the Lord Jesus and of the believer’s heavenly home. The flesh tempts us to neglect the work that the Lord has clearly given us to do and to lay down the cross that Jesus demands that we bear. The believer must listen very carefully to the Spirit in these things. If we are careless, the flesh will encroach on our sanctification and will insinuate itself into our life and will draw us toward the world.
In the next post I will consider what the Bible has to say about this and we will look at biblical examples and specific passages that deal with this subject of worldliness. RMB 4/20/2015